Elections

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How A Recount In The Vermont House Turned Into A ‘Comedy Of Errors’

Republican Rep. Robert Frenier said the process used to conduct the recount in his Orange County House race was a 'three-ring circus.' (VPR/Peter Hirschfeld)

here was some drama in Montpelier Wednesday morning as lawmakers prepared to launch a two-day recount process for the results of the November vote on the representatives for the Orange -1 district. A ballot bag had been previously unsealed, which meant the recount —which would have actually been the second recount for this particular race — was called off. This meant that Republican Bob Frenier prevailed. It’s been a complicated and politically-charged process. Here’s what happened:
The Election
In November, voters in the towns of Orange, Williamstown, Washington, Corinth, Chelsea and Vershire had to choose two of four candidates to represent them in the Vermont House of Representatives. Continue Reading →

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House to conduct Orange recount Wednesday

Rep. Robert Frenier

MONTPELIER — A panel of House members will conduct a recount in the Orange-1 House district on Wednesday after approving the rules and procedures governing the recount last week. Republican Rep. Bob Frenier, of Chelsea, defeated incumbent Rep. Susan Hatch Davis, P-Washington, in November’s general election by eight votes. A recount conducted after Election Day narrowed Frenier’s victory to seven votes, but his win was certified and he was sworn in last month as the duly elected representative of the district. But Davis petitioned the House to review the election. After a fivehour debate earlier this month, the House passed a resolution calling for a legislative recount with strenuous objections from Republicans. Continue Reading →

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House OKs recount of Orange House race

Rep. Robert Frenier

MONTPELIER — The Vermont House approved a resolution Wednesday after hours of pointed debate that calls for a recount in the Orange-1 House district race between Robert Frenier and Susan Hatch Davis that was decided by seven votes. Frenier, a Republican who was seated as a House member last month, beat Hatch Davis, a five-term Progressive incumbent, by an eight-vote margin on Election Day. A recount sought by Hatch Davis narrowed Frenier’s victory to a seven-vote margin, but was certified by a judge. Hatch Davis remained unconvinced, however, and sought another recount, which was rejected by Orange County Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout. Hatch Davis then contested the election with the House, which has the authority to “judge” the election and qualifications of its members under the Vermont Constitution. Continue Reading →

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Scott not sold on exchange report, will outline plan in budget address

Gov. Phil Scott (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — Gov.-elect Phil Scott says a recent report recommending that the state stick with Vermont Health Connect has not necessarily changed his belief that the state should abandon the exchange as he prepares to outline his path forward later this month. Scott, a Republican who will be sworn in as Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s successor on Thursday, promised during his campaign against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter that he would seek to join the federal exchange or partner with other states, while shuddering Vermont Health Connect. The Strategic Solutions Group, an independent party hired by the Legislature to determine whether the state should stick with or abandon the exchange, released its report just before Christmas. The report noted the state’s exchange has “significant deficiencies” and more work is needed if it is to be sustainable. But it also asserted that sticking with Vermont Health Connect is preferable to the solutions Scott proposed during the campaign. Continue Reading →

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Recount leads to tie in Windsor-Orange House race

Rep. Sarah Buxton

MONTPELIER — A recount of the Windsor-Orange 1 House district between incumbent Democratic Rep. Sarah Buxton and Republican challenger David Ainsworth ended in a tie on Monday, according to Buxton. Buxton, of Tunbridge, said a recount Monday at the Windsor County Courthouse in Woodstock eliminated her narrow 1,003 to 1,000 margin over Ainsworth and resulted in a tie — 1,000 to 1,000. But Buxton said it is “questionable” whether that will stand as the final result.

In the original count of the two-town district there were eight write-in votes, two spoiled ballots and 51 blank ballots, according to Buxton. After the recount, there were nine write-in votes, three spoiled ballots and 56 blank ballots. “Somehow between the election night and the recount there are five more blank ballots, which seems kind of strange,” Buxton said. Continue Reading →

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Scott vs. Minter: How the race played out

Republican Gov.-elect Phil Scott celebrates his victory on Tuesday, Nov. 8. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — After months of campaigning, millions of dollars spent and countless hours of plotting and strategizing from both campaigns, in the end, the gubernatorial race in Vermont was not a close contest. Republican Phil Scott, the state’s current lieutenant governor, and now governor-elect, beat Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter by a very comfortable margin — 52 percent to 43.5 percent. Public polls commissioned by Vermont Public Radio and WCAX released in mid-October showed a closer race, with Scott leading by 1 percent and 7 percent, respectively. There was plenty of speculation in the days before Election Day that the winner may only receive a plurality, and once again, the race would be tossed to the Legislature to finish. But it was not close. Continue Reading →

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Sanders doesn’t rule out a 2020 White House run

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a primary night rally in Essex Junction, Vt., Tuesday, March 1, 2016, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders is leaving open the possibility of another presidential bid, saying in a Thursday interview that he wants to focus on helping the party rebuild its base after Donald Trump’s victory. “Four years is a long time from now,” said the 75-year-old Vermont senator, noting that he faces re-election to the Senate in 2018. But he added: “We’ll take one thing at a time, but I’m not ruling out anything.” Sanders gave voice to the frustration among many liberals in the aftermath of Trump’s stunning triumph over Hillary Clinton. He told The Associated Press in a phone interview that millions of working-class voters’ decision to back Trump was “an embarrassment” to the party and that Democrats must take a strong stand against the role of corporate interests in politics. Continue Reading →

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Gov.-elect Scott begins transition, pledges to find common ground with Democrats

Gov. Phil Scott

MONTPELIER — Republican Gov.-elect Phil Scott claimed a mandate Wednesday for his incoming administration to focus on the economy while pledging to work with the Democratic-led Legislature to improve the fiscal lives of Vermonters. Scott, 58, defeated Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter Tuesday by a 52 percent to 43.5 percent margin. In January he will be sworn in as the state’s 82nd governor. But Vermonters send mixed signals at the voting booth. They opted for Progress and Democratic nominee David Zuckerman over Republican Randy Brock for lieutenant governor, and Senate Democrats expanded their dominance by two seats and now control 23 of the 30 total seats. Continue Reading →

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Podcast: Gov. Shumlin reflects on the 2016 election

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Gov. Peter Shumlin chats with Vermont Press Bureau Chief Neal Goswami about the 2016 election, and what it means for Vermont and the country. MONTPELIER — Outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin pledged his full support to Republican Gov.-elect Phil Scott Wednesday whom he praised for running a good campaign, but was extremely critical of Republican President-elect Donald Trump and the campaign he ran to win the White House. Shumlin announced in June 2015 that he would not seek re-election after nearly losing his bid for a third term in 2014. With his approval rating under water, Shumlin avoided the campaign trail as Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter sought to succeed him. But, perhaps weighed down by Shumlin’s six-year tenure, she was handily defeated by Scott on Tuesday. Continue Reading →

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Doyle loses re-election bid to Brooks, knocked out after serving since 1969

Francis Brooks (VPR photo)

MONTPELIER — Francis Brooks, with 15.52 percent of the vote, took one of Washington County’s three senate seats away from longtime Republican Sen. Bill Doyle Tuesday. Bill Doyle, who has served in the state Senate without interruption since 1969, narrowly fell into fourth place in the district with 15.3 percent of the vote according to the Secretary of State’s Office, with all districts reporting. With fellow incumbents Ann Cummings, D-Montpelier, and Anthony Pollina, D-Middlesex, pacing the six-candidate field, the race was for third place as midnight approached and Doyle’s bid for a 25th consecutive two-year term was on life support. Cummings was comfortably ahead with 16,742, and Pollina was a safe second with 14,950 votes, but Brooks was pushing for the first partisan sweep in the county’s Senate race in more than three decades and perhaps the first Democratic sweep ever. With Woodbury left to report its results Tuesday night, Brooks was in third place with 13,479 votes and Doyle was a hair behind with 13,343 votes. Continue Reading →

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